Palazzo Pitti

This is an excerpt from the book “Florence in two days“.

Palazzo Pitti
Palazzo Pitti

Situated at the foot of the Boboli hill in the piazza called “Diladdarno”, it was constructed by Brunelleschi by the wishes of Luca Bonaccorso, in the second half of 1400.

The first construction of the Palace was much smaller than that which was ordered, having only 2 covered floors with stone ashlars.

In the course of the centuries that followed, various modifications were made to achieve what the Palace is today.

In 1550, Cosimo of the Medici’s purchased it as a family residence and commissioned Bartholomew Ammannati to design the portico courtyard and the large windows referred to as kneeling.

Boboli Gardens
Boboli Gardens

The gardens called Boboli gardens, which get their name from the same hill, were done by a project given to Niccolò Tribolo. In 1565, Vasari designed an elevated corridor in order to arrive in the Piazza of the Signoria.

In 1618, work continued with Giulio of Paris and the building was elongated with an additional two bodies on two floors. It was then that the Grand Duke Ferdinand II called in artists like Giovanni da Sangiovanno and Pietro da Cortona to render the Palace a real palace for the occasion of his wedding to Vittoria della Rover.

It was in 1700 that the realization of the last addition to Palazzo Pitti was made. Pietro Leopoldo, in fact, commissioned Gaspare Maria Paoletti and Pasquale Pocciani to design the little palace of Meridiana in neo-classic style.

Today, Palazzo Pitti houses many important museums (Silver, Porcelain, Costume, Carriage, and the Boboli Gardens) through which one can recapture the magnificence and splendor of an epoque from long ago.

BOBOLI GARDENS

This spectacular garden begins from the hill behind Palazzo Pitti and extends towards Porta Romano; its beauty is due to various interventions throughout the ages. The creation of the gardens began when Cosimo I of the Medici family and his wife Eleonora of Toledo purchased the land to build their new palace.

Boboli Gardens
Boboli Gardens

The architects who worked on the project were Giorgio Vasari (1554-1561), Bartolomeo Ammannati and Bernardo Buontalenti. But even in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Medici’s and then the Lorena’s enriched the gardens, which besides having beautiful pathways and woods, is also a real open air museum of sculpture.

The first phases of work reveal an amphitheater decorated with antique sculptures, the Fountain of the Ocean sculpted by Giambologna, the little Grotta di Madama and the Grotta Grande, jewel of architectural and culture mannerisms, with internal and external stalactite decoration, even more animated with its play on water.

Other important things to see in the Boboli Gardens is the so called “del Forcone” or “Vivaio di Nettuno” fountain and the large statue of “Abbondanza” on the summit of the hill, initially begun by Giambologna to portray Giovanna d’Austria, wife of Francesco I, but finished in 1637 as an allegorical figure.

After the Prato dell’Uccellare or Bird Catching Lawn, going down towards Porta Romana, you will find the Viottolone or Large Path, long path lined with cypresses and statues leading up to the square of Isolotto, where in the center you can see the large fountain of Ocean by Giambologna surrounded by another 3 sculptures depicting the Nile, Ganges and Euphrates rivers.

The Coffeehouse, Lemon house, and Palazzina of the Meridiana were all done in the 1700′s during the Lorraine epoque. In 1789, in the center of the Amphitheater, an Egyptian obelisk, originally from Luxor, was erected.

Where to stay in Florence

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